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Eliwood8

A Hat in Time Review

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1933387534_AHatinTimeboxart.jpg.5c490caeef144edab57ad15b6df6d0cd.jpgIt took its time, but finally, just a few months ago, the 3D-collectathon-platformer-inspired game A Hat in Time released on a Nintendo system. Originally Kickstarted back in 2013, the game released on other systems in 2017, though sadly did not launch on the Switch at that time and, quite understandably, skipped over the Wii U entirely. But now Nintendo fans have a chance to play a game that so clearly wears its Banjo-Kazooie/Donkey Kong 64/Super Mario 64 inspiration on its sleeve—or hat, as it were. Sadly, Switch owners will have to settle for an undeniably worse version of the game.

 

You play as Hat Kid, a space-traveling girl who uses Time Pieces to fuel her spaceship. When the hull is breached and the precious Time Pieces are scattered across a nearby planet, she sets out to recover them before their time-manipulating power is abused by any ne'er-do-wells. The game ups the stakes a bit when you meet one such ne'er-do-well and have to race to collect the Time Pieces first, but the story is still light in A Hat in Time. It pretty much just sets up your motivation and then lets you loose in the game. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the environments and side characters have plenty of goofy, cartoony charm (edging on obnoxious at times, granted) but it does mean that the final battle of the game has fairly low stakes.
 
Anyone that grew up playing 3D platformers on the N64 will no doubt be instantly transported to that time after starting up this game. You've got multiple worlds to explore, each with a number of Time Pieces to collect, and in order to unlock new worlds you need to meet a certain threshold of Time Pieces. Some worlds allow you to freely roam and uncover secrets on your own while others are more linear or stage-based, but the feel of a classic 3D platformer is perfectly preserved, albeit on a much smaller scale since A Hat in Time only has forty Time Pieces to collect instead of the hundreds of stars, moons, or other MacGuffins littering other games. The result is a shorter but more satisfyingly contained experience, one that still lasts several hours but never drags. And completionists will be pleased to know there are optional collectibles as well if you just can't get enough of uncovering secrets.
 
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The game also maintains a brisk pace thanks to Hat Kid's quick, fluid movements. There aren't too many moves to learn here but the ones you have make traversing these elaborate 3D environments pretty simple, and it's relatively easy to correct mistakes thanks to the double jump. Hat Kid is also able to craft and equip different hats to gain new abilities, such as sprinting or lobbing an explosive concoction. In order to make a hat you'll need to collect yarn, including yarn of the hat's specific type, but thankfully yarn is pretty plentiful as you explore. You can also equip badges to further augment your abilities. Most of these are merely optional, helpful boosts, but they're great for customizing your playstyle a bit, or adding some challenge with the one-hit-point-only badge.
 
And although the game is relatively short for its genre, there are a lot of great 3D platforming challenges here and a lot of variety in level design. In only the second world things start to get unique with a rivalry plot that puts you in smaller, enclosed levels that test precision more than pure exploration. That said, A Hat in Time is still quite easy overall, partly just thanks to the lack of a lives/continues system. Recovery orbs are plentiful and if you do die you'll find that checkpoints are pretty plentiful too.
 
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The only thing that really makes the game difficult is dealing with a finnicky camera system. It's been decades since those N64 platformers were released, and yet the camera in A Hat in Time is distressingly reminiscent of those problematic times, zooming in too close to you so you can't clearly see around you or locking into obnoxious angles that make jumps more difficult than they need to be, especially when you're jumping to a narrow wire or rope and can barely see Hat Kid's shadow below you. Tight corridors can be extremely annoying to navigate as the camera zooms in and obstructs your view. The game overall is still pretty easy, but missing jumps thanks to an uncooperative camera is frustrating.
 
As I hinted to earlier, A Hat in Time has some technical troubles on the Switch. Loading times are noticeably long, which is annoying but not a huge issue by itself since many games suffer from the same problem. What's disappointing is that even with those long load times the game is terribly optimized for the Switch with occasional frame rate dips in well-populated stages, lots of pop-in visuals, jaggy visuals, and frequent textures that don't fully load or even worse are just plain low-res. The images accompanying this review are not at all indicative of my experience with the game as the visuals were never this clear or smooth.
 
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It's a real shame since clearly A Hat in Time has some fun, cute visual design, even if it can be somewhat repetitive, but on the Switch you'll barely be able to enjoy the graphics in the first place. The soundtrack is at least pretty well preserved in this version of the game, and there are a lot of good songs that could go toe to toe with some of the greats of the platformer music world.
 

A Hat in Time is a charming take on the 3D collectathon platformer genre, perhaps all the more impressive for being made by an indie studio, but it's hard to ignore the rampant technical issues that the game suffers on the Switch. You really can't help but feel like you're playing an inferior version of the game when the textures are so muddy and the environments so jaggy. If you're willing to overlook these faults though, A Hat in Time offers a short and cute adventure into charming 3D environments begging to be explored.

 
Rating: 6 out of 10 Hats

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are there any 3D games ported to switch that don't end up running like shit? lol
it'd be nicer if you reviewed the game proper on its own merits.

play it on a computer if you haven't already, y'all. it's even half off right now.
https://store.steampowered.com/app/253230/A_Hat_in_Time/

the camera in A Hat in Time is distressingly reminiscent of those problematic times, zooming in too close to you so you can't clearly see around you or locking into obnoxious angles that make jumps more difficult than they need to be, especially when you're jumping to a narrow wire or rope and can barely see Hat Kid's shadow below you


unless it's absent in the switch version, you can turn off guided camera completely and avoid this issue

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I want to get this game eventually. Just have to get through my backlog.

 

2 hours ago, Pichi said:

it'd be nicer if you reviewed the game proper on its own merits.

He's reviewing the Switch version of the game. If there are problems with that version of the game it would be imperative to point that out. If those problems knocked the score down, then it must have been important enough to not just let it slide even though it may be patch-able in the future. What I'm saying is if a game is multi-platform, they should all be reviewed, not just one version of the game. They usually end up running differently. (ex. WWE 2K18 on Switch) The only other problem I saw talked about was the camera.

 

 

As for the reviewing process since you get a review copy, are you not able to take screenshots while playing? To me I think using custom screenshots would help in giving your take on the game rather than using the stock ones seen in advertising & the eShop. Would give an idea on the graphical issues you talked about. That's just me. If you're not allowed to do that, that sucks.

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Also I'd definitely recommend the DLC. The base game is good but the DLC adds so much. The Snatcher DLC alone doubled my playtime and adds a lot of difficulty that wasn't in the original game. Some of the buffed bosses are stupid hard and really fun. A lot of the buffed bosses pretty much turn the game into a bullet hell.

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17 hours ago, TKrazyO said:

I want to get this game eventually. Just have to get through my backlog.

 

He's reviewing the Switch version of the game. If there are problems with that version of the game it would be imperative to point that out. If those problems knocked the score down, then it must have been important enough to not just let it slide even though it may be patch-able in the future. What I'm saying is if a game is multi-platform, they should all be reviewed, not just one version of the game. They usually end up running differently. (ex. WWE 2K18 on Switch) The only other problem I saw talked about was the camera.

 

 

As for the reviewing process since you get a review copy, are you not able to take screenshots while playing? To me I think using custom screenshots would help in giving your take on the game rather than using the stock ones seen in advertising & the eShop. Would give an idea on the graphical issues you talked about. That's just me. If you're not allowed to do that, that sucks.

 

Unfortunately this was a rental that I had already returned by the time that I was putting together images for this review. Normally using press images feels sufficient as they're better curated to show off the game's features, it's just that in this case I felt they don't properly represent my experience with the game. I should use the screenshot function more, I just forget to use it even outside of review purposes.

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